The Spanish Gambling Act will affect Online Gaming

Spain Online GamblingThe new Spanish gambling Act which became law in May 2011 will regulate online gaming in Spain. It will oversee gambling on a national level while the 17 autonomous regions, which used to regulate their own gambling industries, will still oversee regulation in their own areas. The Gambling Act covers all electrical and technological communication including the internet, television, land lines and mobile phones.
It makes particular reference to online gaming which must be licensed and regulated.The Spanish Gambling Act also oversees the activities of the state owned lottey operators ONCE (Organizacion Nacional de Ciegos Espanoles) and the Spanish National Lottery LEA (Loterias y Apuestas del Estado). The LEA lottery “El Gordo” which is extremely popular involved four out of five Spaniards in 2011. Both of these companies were to have been privatised but the Spanish government decided last year to hold off on the sale until market conditions improved. The two companies were permitted to offer some online games under the licence they already held and were also taxed differently to new online gaming operators coming into the Spanish market.Each online gaming company wishing to operate in Spain must apply for the relevant licence. The first round of applications for licences ended mid December 2011. The Gambling Act makes provision to prohibit any form of gambling not regulated by the law. Regulated games include: poker, roulette, blackjack, baccarat, bingo, sports betting and horse racing betting among others. Some other games which are not of an addictive nature are also permitted. The Spanish government has an agreement that those applying for licences must be tested by eCogra to ensure fairness and responsibility in online gaming. (See article: Changes at eCOGRA). Sponsorship or any advertising of gambling or of any operators is forbidden unless a licence is held. Licences are granted for a ten year period and can be renewed after the ten years are up. This is a general licence but the operator must also apply for a licence for the individual games it wishes to offer to Spanish players.

The Spanish Gambling Act also introduced a new gaming tax which can be from 20 to 25% depending on the type of game involved. There are also tough sanctions for breaches of the law relating to online gaming by unlicensed operators. Fines can range from one million to 50 million euros. The Gambling Act also gives banks the power to block financial transactions linked to unauthorized gaming and access to an unlicensed online gaming site can be blocked.

The Spanish Gambling Act should have a positive effect on online gaming for Spanish players by excluding or severely sanctioning non-licensed operators who offer games to players in Spain.

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